Over the past 30 years, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam has established a strong national and international reputation. The ensemble is famous for the high quality and energy of its performances. That, together with its varied and often surprising and unfamiliar repertoire, for formations ranging from chamber ensemble to chamber orchestra, and from oratorios to operas, has made it one of the most successful Baroque ensembles in the world. The Combattimento Consort’s roughly 60 performances a year are distinguished by the originality of the ensemble’s presentation, led by one of the trend-setting conductors in Dutch musical life, Jan Willem de Vriend, who in November 2012 received the Radio 4 Prize.
The Combattimento Consort has gone on a number of tours in recent years to Germany, Spain, Central Europe, South America, Japan, Russia and the United States. It has recorded more than 35 CDs and DVDs – this year, its CD of Handel’s Concerto Grossi op. 6 will be released. The ensemble has worked with prominent soloists such as Barbara Bonney, Andreas Scholl and Sol Gabeta, Thomas Zehetmair and Sabine Meyer, as well as with the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Nationale Reisopera and Cappella Amsterdam.
The spearhead of its artistic direction is the performance of unfamiliar and as yet unpublished repertoire. Innumerable searches through libraries, churches and cloisters over the past 30 years have resulted in a notable collection of remarkable performances. In 2007, for example, Combattimento Consort Amsterdam presented Arminio, the only surviving opera of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Over the years, it has developed a distinctive style of playing, which has even come to be known as the “Combattimento School” of performance. Recognizable and energetic, inventive, style-conscious and inspiring. The ensemble presents itself as a “consort”, but with the visibility of the “individual”. Jan Willem de Vriend leads the Combattimento Consort from the “first chair”, appearing as a conductor only in the larger productions (operas and oratorios). The instrumental soloists are in most cases members of the ensemble.
Jan Willem de Vriend is the artistic director of Combattimento Consort Amsterdam and since 2006 the chief conductor and artistic director of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.
Combattimento Consort Amsterdam devotes itself to the music of about 1600 to 1830. Since its founding in 1982, it has performed virtually throughout the world as well as on many CDs, DVDs and television productions.
Since De Vriend was named chief conductor in 2006, the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra has become a notable phenomenon on the Netherlands’ musical scene. It has presented semi-scenic performances of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and Mendelssohn. There were premieres of works by Offenbach, Say and Mahler. And by substituting historical instruments in the brass section, it has developed its own distinctive sound in the 18th- and 19th-century repertoire. Recently, the orchestra performed music by Schumann at festivals in Spain. The release of Beethoven’s complete symphonies, conducted by De Vriend, is a big project which starts with the release of this current CD. Also the orchestra's long Mahler tradition is being continued in recordings and tours.
De Vriend has been a guest conductor with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, The Hague Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Germany, Sweden and Australia. He is often invited to conduct both in the Netherlands and abroad. He has engagements pending, for example, with The Hague Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as orchestras in China, Germany, Austria and Italy.